Day 39 Dalkeith to Edinburgh Cowgate
By bus the trip from Dalkeith to Edinburgh South Bridge is about 7 miles or so. When strollers set out they double it to 14 miles or so just for the fun of it.
There is a hunting scene, I think that is what it is, made of pebbles in Buccleuch Street Dalkeith and it was from there that we set out today.
The centre of Dalkeith looked a little tired being a 1960s type shopping centre which has worn, more or less, like all of them have. On leaving the centre behind we came to a broad street built in an earlier age where both materials and design were of a better quality. Strolling about does allow time to see the best of places.
The route began on a disused railway line. This is now a lovely tarred surface which allowed us to speed along at a brisk 3.2mph. As we approached the start of the old railway we passed a small housing estate. As we passed we heard a cry for help from behind the front wheel of a car parked on the driveway. The cry came from a bloke who posed one of life’s unanswerable questions. “Why did car makers get rid of wheel studs and make changing a wheel such a pain? You need three hands, two to hold the wheel the other to insert the studs into the holes on the axle.” I knelt down on my old morris dancer’s knees and became the second pair of hands for a few minutes.
I know that some people find electricity pylons ugly but to me they are like alien beings striding across the landscape. A working party was camped under these mighty monsters getting ready to climb aloft and ensure electricity for Edinburgh.
I had no idea that one of the bloodiest battles on Scottish soil, Pinkie Cleugh 1547, took place at Musselburgh. Janet also told me that she had attended a wedding in Musselburgh in the 1950s So we had two historic events to talk about.
The bridge over which the battle took place is very narrow and it is hard to believe that it was once the main road into Edinburgh. The battle was known as the rough wooing at the time as Henry V111 was doing a bit of matchmaking for his son but not going for the subtle approach.
Having arrived in Musselburgh we had strolled, in quick time, for about two hours. Two hours is about the time it takes to empty my fuel tank so we were on the lookout for a teashop. We rejected a Costa and a Greggs and then spotted the magical “Scones” sign. This sign was a cruel deception. We ordered our scones and jam only to be told that the last one had been sold and that all 30 that they had had had been scoffed. Janet told the bloke that he should take the fresh scone sign in as it had led us astray. We ordered tea, coffee and some other baked products. As I waited for my coffee the girl making it poured it over her arm. The stuff was scalding. She rushed to the wash basin to get cold water over the scald, smiling bravely all the time as though it was a common and unimportant occurance. When we left the shop, after about 30 minutes of cake and coffee, the siren sign was still beckoning strollers into the arms of despair.
Musselburgh seems to be devoted only to education. Everywhere we looked we could see banners advertising the Loretto School and signs indicating school houses or sports fields or facilities of one type or another. We passed Musselburgh race course and Janet remarked that if she were to go to a race she would not have any idea what to do. We mused upon the little sub groups in society, each ignorant of the others, drummers, folkies, goths, politicians etc.
Onwards along the John Muir Way. The signs for this depict an elderly, white bearded, man. Both of us thought that, for some unfathomable reason, the sign represented a hearing loop. Neither of us are good at deciphering abstract images.
It is our practice to stop every two hours or so to replenish my tank. The John Muir Way seemed to be the sort of way which should be provided with seats in order for the elderly stroller to take his or her ease. We had a nicely ripened camembert in my rucksack which we wanted to tuck into. There are no seats on the John Muir Way it is very nice but there are no seats so no camembert for us.
No camembert but a sign telling us about the Innocent Railway. An innocent railway had no steam engines but used horses to pull the carriages. A stationary steam engine was used to pull the carriages up a hill using a rope pulley.
By now we were in Edinburgh proper, not the outskirts but the city itself. The rain, which had threatened for most of the afternoon, now began. It was the sort of rain which doesn’t really make one wet. In fact wearing a raincoat often seems to make thngs worse in these conditions.
We are staying in EH EuroHostels which is student accommodation let out in the summer vacation. It is simple and inexpensive and very very convenient for the city centre. If, like us, you like simplicity and modest prices then this is the place for you. Tomorrow’s stroll will take us to the majestic Forth Road Bridge. We won’t cross tomorrow as we intend to take our time on the bridge. So the thrill of the crossing will take place the day after. There is nothing like keeping the suspense building to a crescendo.